Key Drivers of Customers’ Perception towards Hotel Brands through Online Booking Stages and Implications for Hotel Management
Building strong brand image in the online context can be considered as a
key driver for hotel business’s success. Hotels use their brand names, signs, logos
(tangible) and images (intangible) to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Customer perception about a hotel brand is created from both offline and online
contexts but only few studies have investigated the formation of brand image in online
contexts, especially in hotel business. The paper primarily focuses on, and examines,
the factors that determine online hotel brand-image from customers’ perspectives.
This is one of a few studies to discuss the dimensions of online brand-image for hotel
business and provides an understanding of factors that hotel operators need to address
in order to create a positive brand image in an online context.
In order to investigate the key drivers of online brand-image, semi-structured
interviews and a scenario-based study with twenty hotel customers in UK and Thailand
were conducted. The respondents were hotel customers who previously searched and
booked hotels online in the last 18 months. Thematic analysis was used to classify
and organize data according to key themes, concepts based from previous literature
and emergent categories relevant to brand image, online brand-image and brand
attributes. The findings significantly reveal that search engines, online travel-agent
website information, website attributes such as site appearance, content, prior offline
brand-image and online reviews and rating sites, influence customer perceptions on
hotel brand-image in an online context. These results provide both academic and
practical implications for the hospitality field.
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